The origins of La Herradura date back millennia – bronze-age settlements have been discovered in the area, but not Roman. A Visigoth rural chapel was found a little way up the River Jate which passes the town, and a Moorish settlement had a small castle near the mouth of the river – latterly the site of a Guardia Civil cuartel. The origins of the lighthouse on the Punta de la Mona headland are also Moorish and later it was an 18th-century lookout tower. Grapes were grown here in Moorish times to be made into raisins, said to be the best in the world.
The Spanish Armada sheltered at La Herradura from a storm in 1562, and when the wind changed, many ships were lost on the rocks around Punta de la Mona and Playa Berenguales. Three to five thousand sailors were lost including, as Cervantes tells us in Don Quijote, the daughter of Don Alonso de Maraíon, a Knight of Santiago. A monument to the 1562 disaster was placed on the seafront in 1990. Outside the church of San Jose there is also an inscription in ceramics with Cervantes’ words.rvantes’ words.